Part II - Bear Referendum
Chapter 15 - The Lamp and The Sun
June 19, 1996, Wednesday, sunny
[22:45 @ Colleen and Rob Malatest’s home in Victoria]
The Malatests, at whose well appointed and book-filled home I’m staying tonight, are excellent company, and I found myself laughing almost continuously while sitting with them and their two small dogs in the rec room, talking about their trip to India. They are a young and attractive couple. Colleen is an elementary school teacher and Rob is owner and head of R.A. Malatest and Associates, a PR firm that, among other things, does public opinion polls. Last year, they sent me a package introducing themselves and the firm, offering their services should they be called for. I haven’t taken them on yet, until tonight, that is.
We gave two presentations today, a 15 minute one at 11:00 to the Voice of Women in Nanaimo – about 8 older ladies, all dynamos, called the Raging Grannies.
The second one was to a few WCWC Victoria canvassers and to one or two people of Greenpeace. Small, but at the core and effective.
Annette called this evening, and told me that Jessie – their Boxer dog - had gone into a “depression” knowing that I’m gone, that she had “fallen in love” with me. She said that Boxers, with a breed-wide genetic heart defect, seldom live much past 8. Jessie looks strong and healthy, but is 8 now. I hope to see her again.
June 20, 1996. Thursday, sunny
[17:20 @ the Malatest residence]
About to have dinner before going to the University of Victoria for this evening’s presentation. The dinner is prepared by my gracious host Colleen. She invited an attractive Chinese woman in her 30s called Irene, who would participate as a volunteer canvasser. Irene is special at least in that she will probably be one of the very few Chinese volunteer canvassers, if not the only one. This is a sad statement by a Chinese person (me) about the Chinese people. Although the Chinese media has done its part since the beginning of the BET’R Campaign to spread the news to the Chinese community, the response from the Chinese community has been hot, but in the wrong sense Sad, but to me not surprising. I really can't see the people in Chinatown giving a hoot about saving bears, or have any feeling about trophy hunting, let alone an environmental issue involving animal rights.
Tonight’s U.Vic. presentation has been well publicized - from both the antihunting and prohunting view points in two separate articles on two consecutive days, both written by Malcolm Curtis of the Times Colonist. Also pre-announced on most Victoria radio and TV stations. There’s been much speculation about the turn out and prohunting/antihunting ratio. If the 1995 Angus Reed poll is collect, that 78% of those polled province-wide answered that they would support a bear-hunt ban, Victoria should have an even higher ratio. The fact that the presentation will occur in an intellectual setting like Begbie Hall room 159 (law faculty auditorium) of UVic should raise the antihunting participation even higher. Most predicted a full house of about 250, with about 50 hunters. Well, time will tell – a very short time.
Dinner is being laid out. Gotta go. Answer later.
[00:57, June 21]
Guess what. The 50 hunters did show up, but the grand total of the entire audience was no more than 65. In other words, the number of anti-hunters were only about 15, WCWC people included – myself, Paul George, Bonita Charet, Lisa Moffet, Alison Spriggs, Misty McDuffy, Colleen Malatest, Irene, and a few others. Outside of the room is the rest of Victoria. The Silent Majority in full swing again.
This largely prohunting audience, however, was reasonable civil, and did not interrupt my presentation, and even in the Q&A they spoke one at a time, though still hard and fast. It was a slightly more refined prohunting audience than that in Alberni, but the points were essentially the same. I found myself calm and collected, and even borderline respectful if only due to their own relatively respectful attitude. In fact, there was a new development. At the end of the long evening, many of the hunters came to me and shook my hand. Some gave me their names and phone numbers. Two or three even apologized for their aggressiveness which was like a slap on the wrist compared to Port Alberni’s eye gouge. Colleen later commented that I handled the hunters “perfectly”. We signed up practically everyone with an anti-hunting leaning in the audience. One lady handed me a $500 cheque. Among the friendlies one person stood out in my memory. He was a tall, well-built and ruggedly handsome man in his early thirties, who stood up amidst the hunter-onslaught and in a strong voice declared that in the Lake Cowichan area, there used to be lots of Black bears just a few years ago, but over the last two or three years, they seem to have disappeared. His name is Neil Gregory, and he and his girlfriend Marnie came and introduce themselves at the end.
They didn't know it then, but Anthony and Neil will meet again in 1999, when they independently partook in a campaign opposing Grey whale hunting by the Makah natives in Neah Bay, Washington state. But that is another story.
Malcolm Curtis of the Victoria Times Colonist (biggest Victoria newspaper) says that he would do two articles, one from each view point. The following article is from the hunter's viewpoint, and it is not pretty.
June 20, 1998, Thurs.
The Victoria Times Colonist
by Malcolm Curtis
Bear hunters shoot back
Bear hunters are in a growly mood over an environmental group’s bid to force a public vote on their sport.
The “Bear Referendum” campaign of Western Canada Wilderness Committee, led by Anthony Marr, is gathering support for a province-wide referendum to ban bear hunting and raise penalties against poachers of bears and traffickers of bear parts.
But advocates of the sport say that Marr is barking up the wrong tree with his facts about bear populations at risk.
“That’s just garbage,” Saanich hunter Terry Anderson said Wednesday, responding to a Times Colonist report about Marr’s referendum drive.
“Your newspaper did not do justice to the cause of ethical hunters,” he said. “The WCWC have done some great things, but I don’t believe that fingering hunters as part of the problem is right.”
Bruce Lloyd, a hunter and pulp mill worker from Port Alice, said he was concerned by what he called “the misinformation campaign”.
While environmentalists say bears are threatened, the level of hunting has decreased while the bear population has risen, he said.
“I can tell you we’re overrun with bears here,” said Lloyd. “I get a bear in my yard at least five time a year.”
However, the hunting fraternity is worried that an “uninformed public” may be swayed to support a bear hunting ban.
Growing concerns have been raised about a booming trade in bear parts for Asian markets, where they are sold for medicinal and food use.
But Dale Drown, general manager of the Hunting Guide-Outfitter’s Association of BC, said a ban on hunting won’t end poaching and trade in bear parts.
Registered hunters serve as the “eyes and ears” of the conservation service and can actually help crack down on illegal activity, and Drown.
Hunting is also widely recognized as a wildlife management tool that helps bear populations from exploding to the point where they cause problems, he said.
In the past year, provincial conservation officers responded to 7,600 complaints about nuisance bears. In response, officers shot about 800 bears, a situation that is bound to increase if the bear population gets out of hand, Drown said.
The WCWC is “playing fast and loose” with figures that suggest bears are threatened, he said, adding that government records suggest populations have steadily increased since the 1970s.
The Environment Ministry’s wildlife management branch has not decided yet whether to take a position on the proposed referendum.
But Bill Munro, deputy branch director, agreed that bear populations appear healthy.
There are 120,000 to 160,000 Black bears and about 10,000 Grizzlies in BC, said Munro, who hunts himself, though not for bears.
Marr, meanwhile, is holding a meeting at U.Vic.’s Begbie Building, Room 159, to promote his campaign.
Back to tonight, Anthony wrote:
On the wall across the room from my bed is the celebrated Van Gogh masterpiece "Starry Night". In typical Van Gogh fashion, everything inherently beautiful and bright is exaggerated, resulting in an ambiance of surrealistic celestial brilliance. It held my eyes all the way until I switched off the bed-side lamp, casting the room into darkness, including the light-filled starry night itself.
Raminothna said in the dark, “Let the magnificent light in Starry Night be the word of the Divine, then the feeble light of the lamp is the word of a man, but without the man daring to speak out, even God will be silenced."
“Likewise, in every room of every mind are stored many such shining pictures, moving stories, magnificent epics, monuments of civilization, oceans of blood, sweat and tears, and, most of all, inspired visions still to be realized and beautiful dreams still to come true. But without our kindling and constantly rekindling the flame of passion that burns within each and everyone of us, we may as well all be blind within our respective bodily abodes. Let it burn, on the other hand, and, with 20/20 insight, Man may find the Way of the Cosmos, see the Masterplan of the Universe, and read the Mind of God,” said Raminothna.
Good night, Christopher.
The Fortunate and The Called Upon
at your service
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)